quarantine in china


Blake Evans

How does Destiny’s Child put it? “I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I will survive, keep on surviving!” ...

Today is Sunday April 11th, the last full day of a two week quarantine. I’m still alert, agile and so ready to walk out of this hotel. To have the chance to walk under the sun is such a reward. After this time I’m going to treasure every moment outside. What is two weeks indoors like? How does one’s life change after a time of introspection, whether in a cave or the 10th floor of a Chinese quarantine hotel? Follow along for a look into my life in quarantine — my first two weeks in China. After a long dark ride through the early morning, the last few hours are lit by the full moon, silently perched over the clouds illuminating the view outside. I sit patiently listening to disco music. My legs moving this way and that, trying to find comfort in the space.

Gracefully first-light streams through windows on the other side of the plane. My hands feel the sun light and I relax as a new day begins. With a final jump from South Korea to Shanghai, the very long journey from Toronto, Canada has finished safely. My headphones are wrapped up and tucked away. Today's the day I meet China.

On the flight there were a total of 4 EF teacher recruits. With some luck and keen ears for English in a Chinese airport we soon found each other by the luggage carousel. In our new squad we traveled through the airport together until we were on a bus being transported to our quarantine hotel. Some kind folks we met along the way assisted us with simple translations. Thankfully they helped us lighten the mood with some friendly conversations. The sun was shining brightly as we pulled up in the bus to the Vienna International Hotel. The signs were pristine yellow colours between two pillars. Distantly, birds chirped.

Under my breath I whistled a ‘hello’ tune in response. Each of the teacher recruits followed the health management procedure, receiving a thermometer and papers to fill out during our two weeks. The rest of the procedures were handled electronically. With my new friend Alex, we rode the elevator to the 10th floor and found our designated rooms. I shifted my backpack off onto the bed, hoisted my suitcases up beside it and sighed. Made it. I sat on the bed and found silence. All that had happened without much thought. I’m glad to be here. Sitting in a room for a session of quarantining is new to me. Personally, I am quite stable as an independent creative, but never have I chosen isolation for two weeks on my own. Though, I was prepared for this timespan. In my suitcases I packed some art supplies, books, snacks, fitness gear, and some technology. Shortly upon arrival, the EF on-boarding team was in communication with me. After a few hours the plans for the next two weeks were revealed.

Trust me, you’re not going to be sitting mindlessly in this room counting the tiles on the floor, mostly because there aren’t any — it’s all hardwood, haha. Similarly, like any start to a new career there is training involved. Look at you, with two weeks of free time! Then, boom — after the first week of account activations it’s suddenly the weekend. Freshen up and sink back into your body; this is real and it’s going to excite you. My impression after the first week was that it was all a dream. I would have real dreams while I slept about telling people I was going to China. Then I’d wake up and tell myself, “Blake you’re already in China...” Oh yeah … Restoring the sleep schedule from such a difference in time, Eastern Canada — to Eastern China, took a full week. In no way did I force myself to do anything. If I was hungry I ate a small amount, if I was tired I took a nap — but set a timer. At the start of the second week I set a new schedule for myself. This is a great opportunity to change your lifestyle and reset your daily routine. The sun rises early in Shanghai (around 5am), so I tuned into this, setting my waking alarm for 6am.

(Everyone’s routine is different so adjust accordingly. Have fun with your time of independence.) As mentioned before, training for your new job at EF is necessary. After the Monday holiday we began training for the next four days. Technology kept us together (wifi stability dependent) and humour kept our spirits high. The group was small, so learning about each other came quickly. Networking is especially important with those you jive with. From what I can see already, even as a new hire, EF seems to thrive on networking to build strong communities. What happens in the training stays in the training, apart from our group photo. Catch me on the left wearing a white jacket and bucket hat! For real though, having the training sessions through the week made time fly.

Four days passed effortlessly. Now there's a bunch of new knowledge in my head inspiring me to continue on this road. I look down to the road from the 10th storey window of this quarantine hotel and know that, eventually I’ll be back on that road, but for now, I type. The Saturday after training I transformed into a supernova. Energy from all parts of my body channeled up into my heart. I felt so alive.

After my 6 am wake up, I sat and meditated. This introspection time during the quarantine has motivated me to start chanting — an activation of the voice box. From under the blackout curtains the sunlight spills onto the floor. I’m ready for the day! For two hours I stretched and practiced yogasana following B.K.S. Iyengar’s sequences. I finished my practice with a full split, resting my side on my thigh admiring how far life has brought me. I clean up the space, thankful for each moment. Lunch was super delicious that day, and soon I was full. I listened to music during the afternoon choosing albums with a mellow feel. Later on I watched the sky turn to black, speckled with street lights and neon lit buildings. The night concluded with some video calls to friends. That night was quite peaceful. I’ve yet to experience the part where I get the okay to check-out from the hotel.

That part will be tomorrow’s adventure. From Shanghai, myself and another EF recruit, Amber, will be flying South to Shenzhen. This will be our final destination and new home city! … Finally I have set eyes on Shenzhen. The city is efficient with a certain type of flow. Connect into it and you can find your way.

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